You’re playing Omaha Hi-Lo and flop the nut low. When it’s your turn to act, you bet your hand. You then notice a player that’s visibly upset and once the hand is complete, they start admonishing you on betting your hand when you “only have nut low.”
Some of you may even be of the mindset that betting nut low is taboo in Omaha 8 or Better. If you are of that mindset, you need to adjust your thinking and consider a more aggressive approach. Here are a few reasons why it is a good idea to bet your nut low in Omaha Hi-Lo.
Force Weaker Hands to Fold
Most anyone with any experience playing Omaha 8 or Better knows you need to be drawing to the nuts whenever possible. They should also be analyzing the board on every street for the best possible hand.
The main downside to betting your nut low is that you’re telegraphing your hand. Normally that would be a bad thing, but it also works to your advantage when someone has entered the pot with a speculative holding.
Players holding second best low draws and weak high hands will consider getting out of the way because they put you on either a nut low or a low with a chance to scoop. Those with the “don’t bet your low” hand may also get out of your way expecting that you have flopped a scooper.
Betting When You Can’t Get Counterfeited
When you’re in a spot where your hand cannot be counterfeited, there’s no reason why you should not bet your nut low. For example, on a board of 2-4-7, a hand like A-2-3-4 is not going to be counterfeited.
Should you have the same starting hand and the flop falls A-4-7 instead, this is even a better situation because now not only have you flopped nut low but you also have top and middle pair.
When playing in multi-way pots, betting your nut low may be a great idea even if you don’t scoop. Unless someone completely whiffs the flop, many Omaha 8 hands will go to at least the turn as players are hoping their draws develop. Knowing this, you can build a pot on the flop and increase your portion of the pot by betting.
If you flop a scooper (a wheel for example) or have a draw to a scooper, then you also want to draw in order to build your pot. Again, players are only going to drop out on the flop if they have missed the board completely.
Family pot games, meaning pots with 4 or more players regularly seeing or proceeding past the flop, are great games to practice your pot building with nut low hands.
Be Wary of Quartering
The main reason that players will admonish you over betting a nut low is quartering. For those new to the game, quartering is when two players split either the high or the low pot. Most often, the low side is the one that’s quartered.
When you’re in games where there’s a lot of family pot action, quartering becomes a real danger, especially when the nut low requires the A-2. The same is true when you’re playing against nitty players. Tight players will often only play hands with A-2 or three or more wheel cards.
If you flop a nut low and someone bets ahead of you or they raise your bet, odds are they have flopped the same hand. At this point, you want to slow down your play until you have a scoop-capable hand.
If it’s clear on the flop that you’re only going to have a low hand and you’re certain you’re facing a quartering situation, a fold isn’t the worst choice either.
The reason is that, in many cases, you’re only going to get back half of your investment. The only way to break even in a quartering situation is if four players stay in the pot all the way to showdown
Many old school players will shy away from being aggressive with their nut lows for fear of being quartered. While quartering is a definite concern, its frequency usually isn’t enough to prevent a smart player from making money longterm by being aggressive with their nut lows.